Ann Mesnikoff

Cutting Methane Emissions to Protect Clean Air & Climate

ELPC testified in support of EPA’s proposed waste emissions charge, under the Methane Emissions Reduction program.

On February 15, ELPC testified in support of EPA’s proposed Waste Emissions Charge. Oil and gas sites and equipment produce numerous pollutants, including methane, a potent greenhouse gas. We support the EPA in its efforts to reign in methane emissions, to reduce the impacts of climate change and protect clean air for millions of Midwesterners who live near oil and gas sites. Here are some highlights from my testimony

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Methane & Climate Change

Cutting methane emissions across the oil and gas industry is critical to addressing the climate crisis. Methane is a climate super-pollutant more than 80 times as powerful as carbon dioxide on a 20-year timescale. Tackling these large sources of methane will also have important health benefits because the methane emitted at oil and gas sites is mixed with health-harming pollutants like VOCs and benzene.

The proposed Waste Emissions Charge, part of the overarching Methane Emissions Reduction Program, is a new tool in EPA’s toolbox established in the historic Inflation Reduction Act, to achieve this important goal. This new charge will help ensure action is taken at the largest sources in upstream oil and gas production and across the transportation and storage of methane.

Midwest Impacts

Climate change is already bringing havoc globally and we are seeing impacts across the Midwest and the Great Lakes region where ELPC works. Climate change threatens the Great Lakes ecosystem, fresh water supplies, and the economies that depend on them.

The changing climate brings increased storm intensity, changes to water temperatures, flooding, runoff, and algal growth—all presenting a significant and increasing threat to the Great Lakes. Changing weather patterns – heat, drought, flooding – impact agriculture. And, for my colleagues in Michigan with plans to enjoy winter activities in the Upper Peninsula – snow is scarce.

Approximately 4.5 million Americans across the Midwest, 3.3 million in Ohio alone, live within a half mile of oil and gas sites and/or equipment and toxic pollution they emit.  From North Dakota to Ohio and Michigan, communities will benefit from EPA’s implementation of this new charge.

Reigning in Emissions

Importantly, the Waste Emissions Charge is part of a larger program geared to helping sources of methane reduce waste and emissions overall, including the announcement from EPA and DOE regarding $1 billion in funding to reduce methane. In addition, companies across the sector are pledging to limit their emissions below the threshold for the charge. Technologies are cost-effective and available to achieve low or zero-emissions in the sector.

EPA must do all it can to avert the worst impacts of the climate crisis by finalizing the strongest possible rule while ensuring effective implementation of the methane rule announced in December of 2023.

Ann Mesnikoff,

Federal Legislative Director

Ann Mesnikoff is the federal legislative director at ELPC, working in Washington, D.C., with the Midwest Congressional Delegation and national coalitions to advance supportive clean energy, clean water and clean air, and transportation reform policies.

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